When Prized Horses Rescued From Nazis Came to Pomona

The Perfect Horse Book Cover

During the final days of World War II, some of the world’s most rare and treasured Arabian horses were rescued from the clutches of Nazi Germany and were later sent to live in Pomona, the former site of W.K. Kellogg’s horse ranch and the future home of Cal Poly Pomona.

The true story about how the horses were rescued is the subject of a book, “The Perfect Horse,” written by New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Letts. Almost all of the Arabian horses at Cal Poly Pomona can trace their lineage back to those prized WWII horses.

Letts will give a special, free lecture that is open to the public at the AGRIscapes Center at Cal Poly Pomona on Wednesday, Nov. 8.

“This a dramatic, true story. The mission succeeded. Thirty-seven horses walked across Europe, sailed across the Atlantic, and finally boarded a train to the Pomona Remount Depot, as Kellogg’s ranch was then known,” said Jeanne Brooks, director of the W.K. Kellogg Arabian Horse Center that is sponsoring the lecture.

In the “The Perfect Horse,” a small unit of American soldiers captured a German spy who had photos of beautiful white horses that were stolen and kept on a secret farm. The Nazis had captured the purebred animals with plans of genetically engineering the perfect warhorse, according to Letts.

The American soldiers launched a covert operation behind enemy lines to save the horses from being captured by the Russians as war bounty. Among the horses they rescued were 21 Polish Arabians that were brought to Kellogg’s ranch in 1946, the year after the war.

Two decades earlier in 1925, Kellogg had established the 377-acre ranch as his winter residence. A horse lover, Kellogg acquired the finest Arabian bloodlines from the United States and England and started breeding horses.

Some of the horses were used in Hollywood movies, and the Kellogg ranch became a popular destination for 1920s movie stars who wanted to see the magnificent creatures. Kellogg also held Sunday horse shows for the public to promote the breed.

Perfect Horse Lecture Promo Video from W.K.Kellogg Arabian Horse Center on Vimeo.

During World War II, the U.S. Army used the ranch as a quartermaster depot, where war horses were bred. The Polish Arabians arrived in 1946.

After the Army ceased using the ranch, the U.S. Department of Agriculture briefly took control of it but – lacking the funds to maintain it – sold it to the W.K. Kellogg Foundation for $1.

Two years later, the foundation deeded the ranch to the California State University system for use as a university campus with the stipulation that the property to be used for education, the Arabian horse herd maintained, and the Sunday horse shows continued.

Today, the W.K. Kellogg Arabian Horse Center continues Kellogg’s legacy, breeding horses and hold the traditional Sunday horse shows for the public.

The lecture will be held at 6:30 p.m., at the AGRIscapes Visitor Center at 4102 S. University Drive, Pomona. Space is limited. RSVP by Nov. 1 at http://www.letts.eventbrite.com.

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